The first chapter of Luke’s Gospel gives us back-to-back annunciations with very different outcomes. First is the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Zechariah, which leaves him mute until the day of John’s birth. A few verses later we get Gabriel’s announcement to Mary, which shortly after opens floodgates of praise pouring out of her mouth from the depths of her being.
Both Zechariah and Mary were persons of deep faith in God, even as both had their questions. However, theologian Andrew Staron names the key difference between them. When he asked, “How shall I know this?” (Lk 1:18), Zechariah doubted the veracity of the message, as in “How shall I know this is true?”Mary’s faith seeks reason. Her faith does not try to prove what God is or isn’t capable of but wrestles with God’s unfathomable love. Click To Tweet
But of Mary’s “How can this be?” (Lk 1:34), Staron writes, “That she will be pregnant is not in question; she asks Gabriel how she might come to understand what it is she believes” (“A Theology of Annunciation—or, On Asking Questions of God,” Daily Theology, March 25, 2014).
Mary’s faith seeks reason. Her faith does not try to prove what God is or isn’t capable of but wrestles with God’s unfathomable love. I imagine that anyone, whether they expect news of a child or not, needs Mary’s kind of unflinching, life-grounding trust that believes God has not abandoned this world despite every good reason we try to provide.